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From the KORD writers:

Billy Squier riffs on rock stardom with ‘Everybody Wants You’

Billy Squier’s second solo album, Don’t Say No, made him a superstar. His fourth LP, Signs of Life, made him a laughing stock. Then there’s the album Squier made in between them, Emotions in Motion. It boasts cover art by no less than Andy Warhol and features a cameo appearance by none other than Queen’s Freddie Mercury, yet it seems strangely forgotten — even though its lead single, the 1982 Top 40 hit “Everybody Wants You,” features one of the most indelible guitar riffs of its era.

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The Allman Brothers Band’s ‘Statesboro Blues’ remains a slide show for the ages

The Allman Brothers Band played four shows over two nights in the course of producing its creative and commercial breakthrough, the classic live LP At Fillmore East, and while the setlists varied from performance to performance, all four opened with the blistering “Statesboro Blues.” And for good reason: The Piedmont blues barnstormer — a showcase for the searing, dive-bombing slide guitar of the immortal Duane Allman, the sextet’s musical and spiritual leader — serves as the perfect introduction to the Allmans’ now-legendary onstage alchemy, weaving their southern-fried, boogie-fied rock and roll into the American roots music traditions that shaped it.

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LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’ gets the last laugh

“Party Rock Anthem,” the worldwide smash from electronic duo LMFAO’s sophomore album Sorry for Party Rocking, doesn’t make grand statements about American politics. It doesn’t show concern for people sleeping on the streets. It doesn’t consider our warming climate, or worry about daily commutes or paying bills. It offers neither commentary on the pains and joys of romance, nor profound statements about sex or death.

But it will make you dance.

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‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ signals the beginning of the end for the Supremes

“You Can’t Hurry Love” boasts all the essential ingredients of the Supremes’ greatest Motown hits — all of them except for Florence Ballard, that is. Ballard, the talented but troubled Supremes vocalist pushed out of the spotlight by Motown brass in favor of Diana Ross, was absent for the session that produced “You Can’t Hurry Love” and surreptitiously replaced by Marlene Barrow, a member of the Andantes, the label’s longtime in-house vocal group — a substitution that did absolutely nothing to dull the 1966 single’s impact or slow its ascent to the top of the pop charts.

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‘ABC’ spells success for the Jackson 5

When the Supremes’ Diana Ross introduced the world to five singing siblings from Gary, Ind., she lit the fuse on what would become one of America’s defining and most enduring musical families. Since 1969, we’ve known the Jackson 5 for a series of impeccable Motown Records singles spearheaded by an inchoate, irrepressible Michael Jackson: there’s the grandiose introduction (“I Want You Back”), the wistful ballad (“Never Can Say Goodbye”), the uptempo burner (“The Love You Save”), and then there’s “ABC” — the crown jewel among the group’s number one hits. More than any of their songs, “ABC” captures everything that made the Jackson 5 such a unique force in pop: its pace is flawless, its energy is irresistible, and its narrative hinges on a creative twist that only an 11-year-old virtuoso frontman could have pulled off.

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Vampire Weekend creates a ‘Holiday’ worth celebrating

The surface of Vampire Weekend’s “Holiday” is all sun, but darkness lurks underneath its ska-punk bounce. “It’s about a member of my family who gave up meat when we invaded Iraq,” lead singer Ezra Koenig explained to British music weekly NME in 2010. “They were horrified by what was happening, and they lost their taste for meat. It wasn’t even an overt protest, it was a physical reaction.” It’s a strange origin for a single that many (including advertisers) interpreted as a non-denominational song written specifically for the end-of-year holidays, but then again, most everything about Vampire Weekend seems conjured in Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory: college students in polo shirts fusing street music from globe-spanning locales with trends from across American pop history, their career was jolted to life by the internet, a then-emerging technological force the nascent Vampire Weekend leveraged in fresh, fascinating ways. 

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Johnny Cash returns to the scene of the crime to revamp ‘Folsom Prison Blues’

Johnny Cash opened the newspaper on the morning of July 18, 1986 to read that after 28 years, 57 albums and 13 number one hits, his days with Columbia Records were over. The 54-year-old Cash — the iconic Man in Black, whose cavernous baritone, plainspoken narratives and signature boom-chicka-boom rhythm revolutionized American music — was one of Columbia’s biggest stars during the 1960s and early 1970s, even headlining his own network television show. But his career cratered during the 1980s, and he hadn’t charted a Top 10 single since “The Baron” back in 1981. Cash desperately needed to move on from Columbia to rejuvenate his creative and commercial momentum, per biographer Graeme Thomson: “He needed a jolt, a change of scene, a new perspective.” And he got them — but not until 1993, when he signed to producer Rick Rubin’s American Recordings and created some of the most acclaimed and impassioned music of his career. This is the story of the period between Cash’s embarrassing exit from Columbia and his rebirth at American, when he landed at Mercury Records to cut six erratic, little-noticed LPs culminating in a collection of re-recorded versions of his best-known hits, including the career-defining “Folsom Prison Blues.” 

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